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Panaracer Re-Brand

Legacy tyre manufacturer or pharmaceutical company?


Before I jump into this I just want to give some context and background. I am a graphic designer by trade and have over 15 years experience in the industry. I predominantly specialise in logo design, branding, user experience, web and app design. I have had a passion for cycling and motorsport my whole life.

Panaracer is a legacy tyre manufacturer who have been producing tyres for 70 years. They are the last Japanese cycling manufacturer to still be producing their tyres in Japan. Japanese tyres have a long standing history of being among the best for grip and quality. To name just a few of the big un’s — Bridgestone, Yokohoma & Toyo. I have always seen Panaracer in line with these standards for the cycling industry.

In more recent years we have seen some of the big international tyre manufacturers up their game and even step into the cycling industry for the first time, undoubtedly due to the rise in popularity of cycling. You will now be able to find the likes of Pirelli, Michelin, Goodyear and Continental butting heads with the cycling specific brands like WTB and Panaracer for a slice of the supple cake.

Some of the big tyre brands in the cycling industry right now.

I have a long standing brand loyalty with Panaracer. I’m a second generation consumer with my dad (now in his 70’s) running them on his bikes and me following in his footsteps. My current adventure/gravel setup is running Panaracer Comets and I love them. I also stand by the fact that Jack Browns (produced by Panaracer for Rivendell) are some of the best touring tyres available. I’ve always thought their tyres looked great and when I was old enough to make my own decisions discovered how well they performed. I have ridden lots of different manufacturers over the years, but I always come back to Panaracer.

Panaracer has just announced a new logo and brand positioning. From their press release:

Since being founded in 1952, Panaracer has blended Japanese craftsmanship with top quality materials and technologies as a leading specialist manufacturer of bicycle tyres and inner tubes.

In the nearly 70 years that have passed, the cycling world and Panaracer’s technologies alike have evolved time and again. Panaracer has spent some time exploring the needs of this evolving marketplace and who they are in the world of cycling.

The new visual identity and the brand statement and mission that stand behind it are meant to reflect an ongoing commitment to the bicycle community.

The Panaracer logo has been modernized into a sharper, more simple form, representing an ever-rolling set of tyres.

The new corporate colour, ‘Panaracer Purple’, blends the previous blue brand colour, signifying dawn, with the colour pink, a colour of passion.

Slogan: Life Cycling Partner

Mission: To provide outstanding tyres that bring confidence, reliability and excitement to your riding, and sustainable value to society.

Celebrating its history of technologies and innovations while looking to the future with a new, modernized look.

Left: Old Logo — Right: New Logo

Press releases should always be taken with a grain of salt. Especially when coming from international brands — messaging can come across slightly differently. Whilst being a Japanese Manufacturer, a lot of Panaracer’s market is in America and Europe.

For now all we have to go on is the logo, social and website (although interestingly the main website is still using the existing brand).
/Edit this has now also been updated to the new brand but the below picture still serves as a good before and after comparison (which weirdly the new site looks like the before…)

There are a lot of different considerations when designing a logo. It’s not just a case of pick a nice font and roll with it. Overall brand plays a much bigger role in an identity and a brand is much more than just a logo.

A fundamental consideration of a logo is its application. How is the logo going to be used and when. There’s no point having a square logo if all your applications are in long thin landscape settings. This is why you find a lot of cycling brands have wide primary logos with a low vertical height. As the logo will likely be appearing on a frame, where there is not a lot of vertical height but lots of width to play with. Same applies for tyre manufacturers. They need to read well when put on the circumference of a circle.

You will also find a lot cycling brands also have a secondary lockup that works well in a square — usually for the head tube which tends to be a monogram or icon.

In today’s age, digital is also a hugely important factor for brands. Logos need to scale down to small sizes for mobile devices whilst still being legible and with the importance of digital marketing, brands need to look good and consistent across all social platforms. This reinforces the need for a square lockup of a logo for profile pictures on social accounts.


I am going to make some assumptions here and base this on my own practises as there is little detail in their process from the press release.

There is a long standing history of legacy re-brands not going down well. A primary example is within the sports sector. Legacy brands having something that start-ups don’t; loyalty. When a company is looking to rebrand it is usually because they are looking to re-position and attract a new audience. No brand wants to lose patrons, but they will have to consider “Is the amount of people we will lose going to outweigh the amount of new people we will attract.” It’s always a risk.

As someone who has a loyalty to this brand it is expected I am going to have an initial aversion to change. That said, as a designer I am also have a better understanding of the reasons why these decisions are made, which allows me to take a step back and analyse things in a bit more detail to see if those decisions align enough to justify it. I can quite frequently see a re-brand and have an initial aversion, but see how it will be a grower!

Unfortunately I don’t think this is the case for Panaracer. If they are smart they are putting this out digitally to gage feedback to see if it needs to be withdrawn. If they have oversighted this, then they are going to have a lot of products with not a very nice logo for some time and I feel will likely be withdraw back within a few years, likely after a change of management.

My first impressions when I saw the new look was confusion and I had to double glance. I genuinely thought it was pharma company — I had to double glance because the name was of a brand I knew and it really threw me.

For me I associate several things with Panaracer:
• Incredible Quality
• Grip
• Heritage (Trusted brand)
• The Logo (I’ve always liked it and would be proud to represent it).
• White on blue (I feel they have quite an ownable space within the cycling industry with this — specifically tyres).

How does their re-brand affect these things and how does their decisions align with the changes?

First things first the logo. It has some really unusual design elements, which make it feel unbalanced.

This quality of work does not reflect the quality of their product.

P Monogram —

The Negative spacing — used to give the logo a beveled look isn’t consistent and isn’t used anywhere else.

The letter P is a totally different design to the main wordmark and there is no correlation between the two. This isn’t uncommon as it appears to be paired up with the wordmark in all situations (other than on social profile pictures) so could be treated as an symbolic icon in which case I’m not really sure what it’s supposed to representing (it looks a bit like a turbo?)— it just doesn’t feel cohesive.

Panaracer Wordmark —

The ears of the n & a’s looks unbalanced adding weight to one side of the letter — someone mentioned it looks like when you auto vector in illustrator… to add to this, it also isn’t consistent with the form as the r does not follow suit in this style making the n & a’s look even more disjointed.

The weight of the text is much lighter than before. Visually this makes it feel weaker and there are potential usability issues for readability when scaling it down.

The letter spacing has been increased, which does help in aiding the above for legibility and downscaling but again makes it feel weaker.

The Panaracer logo has been modernized into a sharper, more simple form, representing an ever-rolling set of tyres.

I’m not sure what planet they are on to think this feels modernised. It feels dated, and looks very early 2000’s web pharma company.

Overall, what felt like a strong logo previously which represented strength and quality with movement in the form of the italicised; now feels like something I can only really picture on a lab coat or medical box. I definitely can’t picture it on a tyre… so I’ve done a quick mock up just to help with that…

Whilst it’s a quick crude mockup… This is the actual logo… I can’t deny it’s giving off Comic Sans vibes… yikes.

As for the brand. Colours are massively influential in driving emotions. Blue is traditionally seen as quite a calming colour. I’ve always felt the colour choice worked well for the brand and made it identifiable on a tyre from a distance as a Panaracer, without even having to see the text. Panaracer use a range of colour for their different products of tyres and in general a white logo on the tyre is one of the most common formats, so whilst this isn’t always true to form its certainly a asset of their brand that held a lot of value and if they were doing an in depth assessment of their brand values it’s probably something they should have considered maintaining.

The new corporate colour, ‘Panaracer Purple’, blends the previous blue brand colour, signifying dawn, with the colour pink, a colour of passion.

I’m not adverse to purple. It seems a bit of a big brand shift. But this is their reasoning for the new brand colours. Which to be honest doesn’t seem to have much substance. Red (pink?) and purple clash. What is the relevance of dawn? It’s all a bit vague.

Benefit of the doubt

There could be a reason for all of this. This is all total speculation but it feels like the only reason for this.

If you don’t know about Panaracers history and the logo feels familiar; this is why.

Yup. Classic Helvetica (Black)!

Some of you may be familiar with the vintage Panasonic bikes. You may have been keen eyed enough to spot the Panasonic logo on Panaracer products. Like a lot of Japanese manufacturers, they are vertically structured meaning they essentially want to own the whole supply chain. If they can manufacture their own parts they will. Just looks at all the big Japanese tech and motor firms, Mitsubishi is a prime example.

Panaracer is a product of Panasonic.

The Panaracer logo has clearly derived from the Panasonic logo.

My only assumption for such a drastic change is a need to change this association. Whether Panaracer is under new management or Panasonic is no longer associated with production. This seems like a logical justification and wouldn’t surprise me.

This would also reinforce the results, which look like they have been done in house rather than through a design agency or established logo designer. If they have cut ties with Panasonic they might not have access to the same resource/budget to create such a strong and iconic identity.

That said it seems like an odd choice to lose such a strong bit of their brand identity. If there were readability issues or the brand needed to be modernised, a brand re-fresh and refining the existing logo to achieve these goals would have done wonders. Subtle kerning changes and a lightening of the weight would have made some substantial improvements.

A quick pass on the original logo.

The above is by no means a final approach, but 30 Mins on my lunch to address the original legibility issues on scaling (a long with some other subtle tweaks) to just give some context to how the logo could have been modernised. If this were taken on as an actual project this would be weeks if not months of work to develop an appropriate result. The above probably wouldn’t be that result.

I think this approach even brings up some exciting possibilities for design language in their wider brand such as using the box logo colour to reflect different tyres in the their range. So much scope.

Final Thoughts

As a long time consumer and someone who is drawn to brands through their image this leaves me with these closing thoughts.

Someone made the final sign off that this was a good decision. It was likely someone high up without a design background. If their brand looks cheap and unrefined does this mean that their internal structure has changed too? Where else are corners in quality being cut. Does this mean the the manufacturing process changed too. If there is a reduction in quality of their brand is there going to be reduction of quality in their products?

If there is a reduction in quality of their brand is there going to be reduction of quality in their products?

Not liking how the brand looks will put me off buying their products — it’s early days so we will have to see how this is rolled out on products. But as an example I would never wear a t-shirt with the new logo on and the logo is going to look naff on my tyres, so I wouldn’t really want them on my bike either…

It would be great if they gave more detail on why they felt the need to re-brand as it seems like an odd move. Especially as they seem to be riding on quite a big success in the gravel sector at the moment. This might answer some of the decisions that were made… For now though, it feels like a step back and in the wrong direction.

What was once a brand I saw alongside the likes of Pirelli, WTB, Continental and Michelin, now looks like a cheap budget option that I wouldn’t even give a thought to trying.

I’d be keen to hear other people’s thoughts. What do you think of their new look?



Sharing steady as fuck adventures. #slowisok

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